View Full Version : Summary: animation

07-23-1999, 02:40 AM
Summary of Replies: Biomechanical Animation
Dear All:
The response was overwhelming to my query about creating
biomechanical animation. I got so may letters I thought I
was being spammed. In the interest of brevity I will summarize
letters and not include respondant's addresses; only add email
addresses and web pages of commercial sites.

Thanks to all,
Jeff Ives
Dept. of Exercise & Sport Sciences Phone: 607-274-1751
Ithaca College Fax: 607-274-1943
Ithaca, NY 14850 USA Email: jives@ithaca.edu

Biomechanics Inc.
Several people wrote that programs from Biomechanics Inc. would
work. Apparently, they did the Batman and Robin sequence and
have cartoons of frogs speaking using facial markers in real
time."The "look" of the animated character is limited only by
your creativity."

Vicon from Oxford (UK) ?
"Their systems have also been used by Hollywood as the basis
for some of the computer generated animations."

MetaCreations' Poser
The largest number of replies mentioned the software "Poser".
To summarize from one reply: A program I've used for positioning
realistic human figures for demonstrating stretching exercises is
called Poser. It has a pretty stiff learning curve, but mostly
because it has so many features. You can manipulate the 3D figures
provided (which include everything from animals and babies to
older adults) by grabbing a limb and moving it into the position
you want. It also has dials for moving each element of the figure
precisely, including digits and facial expressions. The figures
have a kinetic linking feature which moves the limbs in a normal
relationship to how arms and legs can move (i.e., it won't let
you easily hyper-extend an elbow on the figure, although you can
override that if you want to show injuries). It also does animations
in Quicktime movies and would be much better than stick figures or
your "Gumby" model. I think it would work very well for your
purposes of demonstrating Feldenkrais methods. I don't work for the
company, nor do I have any connections with the company, other than
I use their product. It's not cheap - US$240-$250, but much cheaper
than getting a 3D motion analysis system which costs thousands more.

Metacreations' RayDream Studio
"You will have to create the model yourself, but you can position
the limbs using numerical input from biomechanical data (i.e.
translation and rotation of the segments). The academic price
should be less than $300."

Autodesk's 3D Studio
"Usually used by engineers and architects, but I use it for the
animation. It has a feature where you can import kinematic data
on any figure you want. 3D Studio has some ready-made figures but
they are not cartoon like, one of them is a complete skeleton.
Now if you know very well this program believe me, it is really
easy to "transform this skeleton ready-made model to any weird-
cartoon-like character you want. Since it is a very sophisticated
program (it costs about $3,000) I suggest to find a friend that
has this program and perform a demo to you."

Peak Performance
"You can use most motion measurement systems to produce data that
can be read by animation packages such as 3D Studio MAX from
Discreet. Our web site at has some
examples of what can be done with motion capture and animation
packages, and gives links to other useful sites. Peak's web site
at also gives some useful information.
Peak also sell a simple video based plug in for 3D Studio MAX
called Kinecapture, that is specifically designed for this type
of application. Kinecapture also has the advantage of being
considerably cheaper than most motion measurement systems!

Briefly, you can take 3D coordinate data from a motion measurement
system, and then use it to drive an animated character, with each
sample from the motion measurement system providing a series of keys
for the animation. With 3D Studio MAX, for example, you can control
the movements of an underlying "bone" structure for simple motion,
or you can use a plug in for 3D Studio MAX called Character Studio
for whole body animation. The 3D package can produce very realistic
animations that can be output as AVI files, and there are commercial
3D models available that can be used as your subject. One problem
that may need to be addressed is that most motion measurement systems
produce 3 degrees of freedom information (ie. X,Y,Z coordinates),
but most animation packages need 6 degree of freedom information to
give position and orientation of segments. Character Studio has
software tools for converting 3 DOF information into 6 DOF.

Motion Analysis Inc. ?
Contact Dean LaCoe at Motion Analysis Inc., in Santa Rosa CA. He
directs the division of that company that focuses on the use of 3-D
video data capture in animation. The same hardware/software that we
use for biomechanics is used by many of the animation studios to do
exactly what you describe. He can fill you in on all of the details.

Dan India from Motion Analysis also replied: Please see our web site
and download our VRML animation for "Gumby"
Motion Analysis Corporation
Daniel India, Vice President Biomechanics
3617 Westwind Blvd
Santa Rosa, CA 95403 USA
847-945-1411 F: 847-945-1442
Fax to Email: 916-314-2180

Working Model Motion
Alias Wavefront
Working Model Motion encorporates capabilities for rigid body
animation and simulation in 3D. I think it is the easiest to work
with, and the cheapest to buy. The down side is that you have to
create the human figure on your own, or get one from someone else.
Another option is Alias Wavefront, about which I know little. Alias
is purely animation software, and cannot be used for mechanics.
A third possibility is ADAMS, which, like Working Model Motion,
is a combination of simulation and animation packages. ADAMS has
an "android" package which includes a human figure, although I
don't know much more than that. I think that ADAMS is more expensive
than Working Model, and also a little more complicated.

Transom's "Jack"
It looks like our Jack (go to our Transom web site to see Jack)
is very good for your purposes. But it is a commercial ergonomic
and human simulation software, it is not for free.
Ovsei Volberg, Ph.D. Phone: 734.761.6001 ext. 238
Engineering Animation, Inc. Fax: 734.761.7003
Email: ovolberg@eai.com

A show on The Learning Channel about the microchip had a segment
about the folks at Georgia Tech (I don't recall the names of the
individuals) who were working with the Atlanta Ballet I believe.
The project involved dancers wearing some biomechanical sensors which
allowed the computer to record their movements and translate them
into an animated character's movement real time. You may want to
try investigating how they accomplished this.

Filmbox from Kaydara
They make a product call FilmBox and they can interface with approximately
anything. They made the special effects of "The Matrix" and, by contacting
them, you can receive a demo reel of their product.
4428 Saint-Laurent, suite 300
Montréal (Québec) Canada
H2W 1Z5
Tel: (514) 842-8446
Fax: (514) 842-4239

Puppetworks (http://www.puppetworks.com). "The prices might be prohibitive,
but it looks like interesting technology."

A company (name unknown) claiming their software
was used for scenes from the 5th Element.

The Will Vinton group in Portland does high level entertainment animation.

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